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How do I check my IP address?

How do get a refresh of the IP address without rebooting?

My IP address starts with 169. What does this mean? How do I get a real one?

You can check your IP address with the Winipcfg command (Windows 98) or the Ipconfig command (Windows NT, 2000, XP) as follows

IP numbers that begin with 192 and 169. Please post the whole set of digits. No one can do anything with the data

Winipcfg

Winipcfg is a network utility available in the Windows9X operating systems. You can use winipcfg to display IP configuration information (including IP address, Gateway, and DNS address.
To use winipcfg from within Windows:

1. Select the Start button on the Task Bar.
2. Select Run.
3. Type winipcfg.
4. The IP Configuration window will be displayed. This displays the IP address and Gateway information.
5. You may need to select the right network adapator in the drop down list
6. Select the More Info>> button to display more information. This displays the DNS server address.
7. Select OK to close the IP Configuration window.

To refresh the IP address without rebooting, press the release button. Then press the renew button

Ipconfig
To use ipconfig from within Windows:

1. Select the Start button on the Task Bar.
2. Select Run.
3. Type cmd.exe.
4. When the DOS command prompt window opens,Type ipconfig.
5. This will display basic IP configuration information. For more options, type ipconfig /?.

To refresh the IP address without rebooting, type ipconfig /release. Then type ipconfig /renew


I am getting an IP address that of the form 169.x.x.x and cannot connect to the internet

Your computer is not getting an IP address from the router (if you have one) or your broadband company (DSL /Cable). As your computer requires an IP address, it then "makes one up" and assigns one to itself.

Here's more information on the "169" problem

See the first post in this thread for troubleshooting tips

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My printer is not near my computer. How can I print?

The simplest answer is to use the printer sharing solution. There are two downsides. One is that the printer must be connect to a computer. The other is that it must be turned on. On the other hand, this is the most cost effective solution.

The other answer is to use a print server. The print server is additional hardware and software that takes the place of the computer controlling the printer directly.

Print servers can be built into the printer. Or they can be purchased aftewards. When they're built into the printer, the printers are generally advertised as "network ready"

If you buy a standalone print server, you should be aware of two things

1. Make sure you know whether you need to connect it to a USB or parallel port printer as some print servers do not support both
2. You should expect some of the enhanced capabilities of the printer - where the printer sends information to the PC (e.g. low ink warning message) will not work. As the print will send the message to the print server - which is not sophisticated enough to deal with it

And they can be wired or wireless ethernet. The most expensive, but most capable/flexible solution is to buy a printer with a built in wireless print server.


Example of a network ready printer (Wired)

Example of network ready wireless printer

Example of wireless print server

A final choice: Some printers support PANs (Personal Area Networks) via (wireless) Bluetooth. If your printer does, you can add a USB bluetooth adapator to print directly from your PC/laptop to the printer. No print server or 802.11 network requried

Note A USB /ethernet bridge will not make a USB Windows printer network capable. This is because a network printer alos requires a print server - software on the printer to store the print information until it prints. The USB/ethernet bridge provides connectivity but not a print server

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Is wireless safe? What should I worry about?

With a strong password, WPA can be viewed as secure. WEP should only be viewed as enough to stop casual eavesdropping. If you use WEP you should expect that if someone wants your data, that they can get it.

WPA is, for all practical purposes, unbreakable. It, like other security does have an exposure - brute force dictionary attacks. i.e. just keep picking passwords and trying them.

To prevent this (1) Change your SSID to something that is not standard and (2) choose a strong password. Steve Gibson's password generator site is an ideal place to get a randon password https://www.grc.com/passwords Its one time generation, and is as close to random and strong as anything that can be generated. Because it relies on SSL encryption, the password it serves will be delivered securely to you, even over an otherwise insecure connection

And, because it prevents akami and other services from caching it, no one, even if you generated it over a public computer, can even see what you got once you close the web page, navigate to another site or refresh

If you use your wireless network at home, or at the office, and it is set up as discussed earlier (WPA security; router password; unique SSID ) then you can consider wireless safe enough for financial transactions.

However, when connecting to an unknown access point or a public hot spot, you should only consider information secure if you are using corporate VPN security which sets up a secure end-to-end tunnel

Absent VPN tunnels, from a public hot spot, or unknown access point, do not perform any financial transactions. Do not access anything that requires a password that you would not freely hand out on the street

Even secure websites (those with the little "key / locked" icon) are vulnerable to attacks. For example a Man-In-The-Middle attack coupled with an Evil Twin Access Point can compromise even otherwise secure websites

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I have Xp Pro Sp2 on all my machines. How do I share a folder on the network but limit it to specific computers I specify?

You need to disable Simple File Sharing:
To disable Simple File Sharing in Windows XP Pro, click start, double-click My Computer, Tools, Folder Options, View tab, at the bottom of the list uncheck Use simple file sharing...

Then you need to set up a user Account on machine A that allows the user logon on B, with password (ideally matches the logon on B) and vice versa.

Finally you need to share the folders you wish on a user by user basis.

You should then be able to browse and find and access the folders

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I took my laptop away for a few days, and when I came back Ihave internet connection but can't share files or printers

In all likelihood, one or both of the following holds true

1. You have software firewalls installed on your PCs and your router is handing out DHCP addresses. In this case, when you reconnect, the router hands out an IP address outside of the "trusted zone." The software firewall then blocks the connection

Solutions: Temporarily disable the software firewall to verify the problem /solution. Then either (a) expand the IP range of the software firewall to match the DHCP assignment range of the router, or restrict the DHCP range of the router to match the software firewall "safe" IP addresses. Reboot and you're good to go

2. You are using the Windows Wireless Zero Configuration Utility (WZC). This has many known problems

Solution: Download and install the latest version of the wireless configuration utility from your wireless NIC card supplier. Use that utility instead of WZC

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Special issues with verizon dsl, Westell modems and Linksys routers

Verizon's latest Westell modems have a built in router that hands out IP addresses in the 192.168.1.x range. It also has built in PPPoE logon capability.

Together, these capabilities conflict with a standard Linksys router configuration for DSL, which also assigns IP addresses in the 192.168.1.x range. And also is normally configured for PPPoE.

Here's how to solve the problem
Alternative 1:
1. Connect the Linksys router to a PC via the LAN port.
2. Leave the WAN port vacant.
3.Reboot the PC and login into the Linksys router
4.Change the default IP address range to 192.168.2.1
5. Ensure the network type is set to DHCP (since the Westell modem is doing the PPPoE login)
6. Power everything down
7. Connect the Linksys router WAN to the DSL modem. Reboot everything and you're good to go

Alternative 2:
1. Connect the PC to the Westell modem and login to its management interface.
2. Configure the Westell modem through its management interface and put it into bridge mode
3. Power down everything.
4. Reconnect DSL modem--Linksys Router--Computers
5. Reboot
6 Configure Linksys router through its management interface with PPPoE, DSL logon and password


Alternative 3:

Verizon has finally figured out there is an issue and posted their own instructions

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Compatability: Does the network device I buy have to be the same brand? What about my broadband modem?

a, b, g, n, pre-N: Which do I want?

All network devices that are built to standards are compatable - so when this is true you don't have to worry about brand. And the devices are often backward compatable.


For wired devices. 10/100/1000 baseT wired ethernet devices are compatable/ backward compatable, regardless of brand


For wireless devices
  • 802.11a devices are compatable, regardless of brand, and run at 54M
  • 802.11b devices are compatable, regardless of brand, and run at 10M
  • 802.11g devices are compatable, regardless of brand,and are backward compatable to all brands of 802.11b hardware, and run at 54M
  • 802.11 "super g" devices have not yet had their standards finalized and will only work at "super g" speeds (108M) with other "super g" devices of the same brand. However, regardless of brand, they are backward compatable to all brands of 802.11b/g hardware
  • 802.11 "pre-N" devices have not yet had their standards finalized and will only work at "pre-N" 54M speeds with other "pre-N" devices of the same brand. However, regardless of brand, they are backward compatable to all brands of 802.11b/g hardware

    Pre-N devices, due to the use of MIMO (Multiple Input/Mutliple Output Antennas) improve range. This has been benchmarked by a number of independent evaluation sites. This is true even with a pre-N router and legacy b and g devices.

    The "bridging" capability (See post about extending range) is not yet standards based and is only guaranteed to work within brand. However, people have reported success in getting Linksys and Belkin devices to successfully bridge with each other. Note that in bridge mode, many vendors only support WEP security, not WPA or WPA 2

    Note that when you mix brands, the vendor provided installation wizards are less functional. All vendors, however, support manual configuration

    The wired ports on any wireless devices are completely standards based and are compatable with any other wired ethernet device


    For Broadband modems

  • Cable modems are standards based, and any brand should work. However your cable company will need to know the MAC address of the cable modem in order for you to pass their security authentication and be allowed to connect

  • DSL modems, on the other hand, are not standards based (on the uplink port). Therefore, you must check with your provider if you want to change modems. (The downlink port that you connect to your own computer/network is ethernet 10base T standards based

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Good Job

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Thanks Ellory... very useful info

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Nice work, ellory!

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Now that's motivation. Good work!

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Can get to sleep again, huh?

Why not put all this useful information up on a permanent "web site"?

Maybe you could call it "The FatWallet Computer Forum FAQ"?

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This is a great resource OP.

If anyone is looking for specific information about the Belkin F5D7230-4 Wifi-G router, please check out my thread.

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This is a very informative post, but doesn't explain how to do some things, like:

7. Configure PPPoE with logon/password for DSL or DHCP for cable modem
8. Enable IPSec Passthrough if you need to connect to a VPN at the office


I am trying to set up a network consisting of 3 computers. Here is what we have:

SBC Yahoo! DSL
Speedstream(?) Cable Modem
Netgear WGR614 Router
Computer 1 (Linkworld) is a custom-built PC with K7S5A Pro mobo (includes NIC), Athlon 2000+, etc.
Computer 2 (GQ) is a GQ computer from Fry's with NIC built in. There is also a Syntax USB adapter connected to it.
Computer 3 (eMachines) is an eMachines T1090. Also has a Siemens Speedstream USB network adapter. No NIC.

Linkworld, GQ, cable modem and Router are in the same room. Currently, I have the cable modem connected to the router and the router connected to the NICs in the first two computers. Both computers can get the DSL. In a perfect world though, GQ would be connected wirelessly to the router, rather than having to drag a cable across the floor. Also, eMachines should be connected wirelessly too (Currently, it is not connected to the DSL at all.)

And of course, security is very important. I don't want credit cards or passwords flying through the air on an unsecured connection.

Previously, I had tried (when we were on dial-up) setting up an Ad Hoc connection between the eMachines and an old CTX using two Speedstram adapters, but it was very hard to set up and I needed someone's help and once I got it going, it stopped, so I pretty much gave up.

So now that I have the DSL, I would like to first get it set up wirelessly to all of the computers (except Linkworld can be wired, since it is right next to the router) and eventually file and printer sharing. How EXACTLY do I go about doing this?

Thanks.

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johnstexas said: This is a very informative post, but doesn't explain how to do some things, like:

7. Configure PPPoE with logon/password for DSL or DHCP for cable modem
8. Enable IPSec Passthrough if you need to connect to a VPN at the office
Thanks for the feedback. . Helps make the thread clearer for others. I edited the reference to add some more clarity on DSL vs Cable. However,the details of exactly how you setup IPSEC and the PPPoE logon are not provided as they are different in every model of every router. If your router supports IPSEC, its typically a dropdown or a selection. For PPPoE its typically a dropdown connection type choice. Then you enter your DSL logon and password.

As far as the rest of your question, I've reposted it, and my response in this thread in order to make your trouble easier to track and manage

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Many Gracias! Ellory Da MAN!

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Any solutions on how to connect WESTELL 327W and Dell 1450 WIFI ???

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The Westell VersaLink 327W is known to have some problems, but it is a good DSL modem.

Now connecting to this modem should be very easy.

Open your browser and go to http://192.168.1.1/ <<---This is your DSL modem

The username and password should be the same as your DSL account.



In the page that opens, bring your cursor over "Connections" and a drop down
menu will appear, select "Wireless" It will request your login info.

- 1) "Wireless operation" set to enabled.
- 2) "Mode" set to "Mixed"
- 3) "4x Support" set to "Enabled"

       DO NOT fool around with the "Advanced Configuration" unless someone
       who knows what they are doing talks you through this.

- 4) "Authentication Type" set this to "Shared Key"
- 5) "WEP Security" set this to "Enabled"

- 6) "Key Select" set to "Key 1" then enter a 13 digit (128-bit) alpha numeric code.

       Now unless you are going to be needing more than one key, you only need to set
       the first one. So unless your 802.11 card supports higher, set
       this to 128-bit encryption and be sure to save the details to a text file in
       case you ever need to look it up again. You'll also need this key for setting
       up your connection on your system.

       Also be sure to include the "Network Name (SSID)" in the file, this will be needed.


- 7) "Hide SSID" set this to "Enabled"
- 8) "MAC Address Filtering" this is optional and can be left "Disabled"

Now hit the "Save" button and you are now ready to setup your wireless connection on your system.



Now use Start > Programs > Accessories > Communications > Wireless Network Setup Wizard

If you have any problems with your 1450 mini-PCI card, go to the DellTalk Forums
and do a search for 1450 and you should be able to find some threads which can point
you to better drivers located on the HP website for your card.



As to your VersaLink DSL modem, you'll find that any problems which occur with this
are caused by excessive heat buildup inside the modem housing. If you look at the way
the case is built, you'll notice that the cooling vents are very restrictive and not
very good for cooling. This is what causes the problems you'll read about in some other
forums.

To fix this, carefully open the case and remove the circuit board being careful not
to damage it and take note of how it goes back in. Now using either an X-acto knife
or a Dremel, you can open the cooling vents in the case by cutting out the obstructing
vents.

Once you finish, reassemble the modem and everything should work great after that
cause with the vents open, there won't be any heat buildup to cause any problems.

rated:
Thanks ellory.
Nice post.

rated:
Awesome post.

One question though: I am getting a new computer tomorrow. I just shared all my files, and they are all on my kids computer too. Now if I delete files from this computer, will they also be deleted from my kids computer? (like my pictures etc). If so, how can I avoid that?

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If the files are shared, then there is only one version. Deleting the files will completely remove them.

If the files are a copy, then there are two versions.

If you have only shared them, then you can make a copy on the kids computer via standard windows drag and drop copy capbilities (on the kids computer open the shared files and make a copy. It would, of course, be good practice to also burn a copy to CD

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ellory said: If the files are shared, then there is only one version. Deleting the diles will delete completely remove them.

If the files are a copy, then there are two versions.

If you have only shared them, then you can make a copy on the kids computer via standard windows drag and drop copy capbilities (on the kids computer open the shared files and make a copy. It would, of course, be good practice to also burn a copy to CD


Thank you! That is what I ended up doing. Anything I can with the iTunes list as well? Can that be shared?

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Limited file sharing between Xp pro sp2 and Win98 SE ?

I have 2 computer and sharing internet connection with two other people through router.
One of my computer have XP pro sp2 and the other computer use Win 98 SE.

Is it possible to only share files between my two computer (Xp pro sp2 and Win98SE)?
Will turn off simple file sharing work with Win98se?

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BokooI'm not sure entirely understand your question.

For clarity, could you read the first sticky and post back in a new thread with all the relevant information?

In the meantime, this may help

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good post!

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Hi,
I am using Verizon wireless. Recently, after install CounterSpy and Mcfee personal firewall, my laptop can still connect to the wireless network with exellent signal, but I cannot use internet anymore. What happens? Is it due to the firewall?


ellory said: I took my laptop away for a few days, and when I came back Ihave internet connection but can't share files or printers

In all likelihood, one or both of the following holds true

1. You have software firewalls installed on your PCs and your router is handing out DHCP addresses. In this case, when you reconnect, the router hands out an IP address outside of the "trusted zone." The software firewall then blocks the connection

Solutions: Temporarily disable the software firewall to verify the problem /solution. Then either (a) expand the IP range of the software firewall to match the DHCP assignment range of the router, or restrict the DHCP range of the router to match the software firewall "safe" IP addresses. Reboot and you're good to go

2. You are using the Windows Wireless Zero Configuration Utility (WZC). This has many known problems

Solution: Download and install the latest version of the wireless configuration utility from your wireless NIC card supplier. Use that utility instead of WZC

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truongmymy said: Hi,
I am using Verizon wireless. Recently, after install CounterSpy and Mcfee personal firewall, my laptop can still connect to the wireless network with exellent signal, but I cannot use internet anymore. What happens? Is it due to the firewall?Since you lost wireless connectivity right after you installed these two products, then its quite likely this is the cause. You might try ensure that your firewall is properly configured. You might check your IP addresses. This thread may provide some insights on troubleshooting

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ellory said: truongmymy said: Hi,
I am using Verizon wireless. Recently, after install CounterSpy and Mcfee personal firewall, my laptop can still connect to the wireless network with exellent signal, but I cannot use internet anymore. What happens? Is it due to the firewall?Since you lost wireless connectivity right after you installed these two products, then its quite likely this is the cause. You might try ensure that your firewall is properly configured. You might check your IP addresses. This thread may provide some insights on troubleshooting

You are great. My network runs well now. Thank you very much.

rated:
Well done ellory!

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Have RCN residential cable in Boston area with several desktops hooked up through a Toshiba PCX DOCSIS (PCX2200) and some hubs along the way. Works fine.

Can I attach a wireless router to a hub running off the Toshiba and turn it on for the very rare occassion we'd be using a wireless connection to the laptop?

Would be essentially connecting a wireless router to a hub coming from a hard wired router. Do two routers make a conflict or is it OK?

BTW, great column on the networking.

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This page says your cable modem supports up to 16 devices

This page implies that you are buying more than one IP address from RCN, and that this cable modem does not have DHCP capability Are you?

If you are, and you want to stay with this approach, then you'll need to either
1. buy another IP address from RCN and disable DHCP on the wireless router
2. leave DHCP enabled on the router and ensure that they it is not operating in the same IP range (i.e. matching first 3 numbers in IP address) as the addresses assigned by your cable company

Or, if you're buying muliple IP addresses, consider only buying one and connect the wireless router directly to the cable modem. And then connect everything to the wireless router (which can support up to 255 devices)

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ELLORY: We have basic cable internet service with RCN and I beleive our multiple PC's on the same Toshiba router share everything.

If I understand correctly, I can connect the Netgear wireless router to a hub connected to the Toshiba hard wired cable modem, disable DHCP and all might be well?

Thanks.

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Maybe. Can you report the results of an ipconfig? (see instructions on how to do this earlier in the thread)

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Ellory: Followed instructions posted above and PM'd numbers to you.

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IP numbers that begin with 192 and 169. There is no reason to PM rather than post. No one can do anything with the data.

That being said, you have a 192 IP range. It is being assigned locally by your cable modem, which must have an integrated router.

What you want to do will likely work if you disable DHCP on the wireless router

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Thanks for your help, OP.

Works fine with default setup. Having never used a wireless system before it was a bit mindboggling with the unknown vocabulary.

Cheers.

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I recommend you read the section in this thread on configuring security

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Been reading through this post, and some of the links. Have but one question.

What's typical range for a home based wireless system?

I have a l25 year old two story big old drafty house and with the transmitter in the middle of the first floor it's a wonderful connection for about 25 feet in any direction, at 50 feet it's really suffering. Is that typical?

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Bridging a Linksys WRT54G and Belkin 7230-4 Wirelessly

These steps will create a wireless bridge between a WRT54G as the Gateway and a 7230-4 as an access point (AP). The AP will act as a repeater (extending the range of your wireless network), as well as an AP. The AP will also act as an ethernet bridge, so you can plug it in to an xbox or ps2 (or a computer with ethernet but no wireless) to gain access to your wireless network. I am writing this because I found many tutorials explaining how to connect two WRT54G's together, but nothing explaining how to connect a Linksys and a Belkin. After trial and error, this is what I came up with:

Step 1) If you are using Linksys firmware, you will have to flash a 3rd party firmware to the WRT54G, such as Sveasoft's Alchemy. I am using dd-wrt, which is a variation of Alchemy. I won't discuss flashing, as it is explained very well on other forums.

Step 2) Now that the firmware is upgraded, you can now establish wireless bridging on the WRT54G. If you haven't messed with the IP settings of the router, use IE to access 192.168.1.1 to get to the web-interface of the router. Go to the "Wireless" tab. In "Basic Settings, change the Wireless channel to 11 (or whatever works for you, but the two units must be on the same channel, the default for Linksys is 6 and the default for Belkin is 11). Click on the "WDS" link on the far right. Change the drop down menu to LAN and type in the WLAN MAC address of the Belkin. Click "Save Settings" button. You are done with the WRT54G.

Step 3) Clear all settings in the Belkin router by pushing in the reset button on the back and holding for 10 seconds. You will see all the lights blink green, then orange, then router will go back to normal with all factory settings.

Step 4) Connect to the 7230-4 with an ethernet cable directly from a computer (do not go from the WRT54G) and plug into one of the blue ports (not the green one). It is helpful if you are doing this on a different computer than the one the Linksys is connected to. You can now access the web-based interface through 192.168.2.1. Click on "Use as Access Point" on the menu at the left, then click "Enable". The new default IP address will be 192.168.2.254. You can change that 254 to whatever you like as long as it's less than 255. Remeber what you set it at, or you will be doing another hard reset. Click "Apply Changes", then change the address in you web browser to the new IP address (e.g. 192.168.2.254).

Step 5) You are now in the web-interface of the AP. Click on "Wireless Bridge" on the menu at the left. "Enable Wireless Bridging" should already be selected. Select "Enable Only Specific Access Points To Connect" as well, and put in the WLAN address of the WRT54G. Note: It is very important to be working with the WLAN address of both units, and NOT the LAN address. Click "Apply Changes". Lastly, make sure that the unit is on the same channel as what you set the Linksys to.

Step 6) Log out of the web-interface and unplug the power to the Belkin, wait a few seconds, and plug the power back in. The two units should now be bridged. To test it out, plug a separate computer into the the Belkin and see if you can access the internet or view files on the computer connected to the Linksys. No computer or other device needs to be plugged into the Belkin for it to be bridged, so it can sit in a closet or something if all you want to do is extend your wireless range.

The only problem I have is that once the Belkin is rebooted and bridged to the Linksys, I can no longer access the web-interface via 192.168.2.254. The only way I can get back into the Belkin is to do the hard reset, make my changes and go through steps 4, 5 & 6 again. If anyone solves this problem, let me know how.

Hope this helps someone!

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Sharing Wireless Connections - A legal perspective

A legal view in layman's terms The recent arrest of a Florida man on charges of unauthorized use of a wireless network could set legal ground rules for open Wi-Fi access.

A man sitting in a Chevy Blazer in a residential neighborhood reportedly was poking around nearby wireless networks in violation of computer crime laws, according to local police.

Welcome, Google user!
If this story isn't what you're searching for, try these other News.com search results for "wifi arrest":

* Year in review: Wi-Fi reaches new heights

More ...
This appears to be the first arrest in which the sole offense was allegedly accessing a wireless network without prior authorization, and it's already being viewed as a probable test case. CNET News.com interviewed legal scholars to ask what rules apply to Wi-Fi (also called 802.1x) hot spots.

Is it legal to use someone's Wi-Fi connection to browse the Web if they haven't put a password on it?
Nobody really knows. "It's a totally open question in the law," says Neal Katyal, a professor of criminal law at Georgetown University. "There are arguments on both sides."

That doesn't make much sense. Is there a specific law that regulates Wi-Fi access?
Sort of. The primary law is the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

You can read it for yourself, but the important part (check out paragraph (a)(2)) covers anyone who "intentionally accesses a computer without authorization or exceeds authorized access." Nobody knows exactly what that means in terms of wireless connections. The law was written in 1986 to punish computer hacking--and nobody contemplated 802.1x wireless links back then.

What do prosecutors think?
We asked the U.S. Justice Department on Thursday. A department representative who did not want to be quoted by name said, essentially, that it depends on the details of each case.

The representative said in an e-mail exchange: "Whether access is considered authorized can be determined in part by the precise circumstances of access, just as it would be in the physical world. The prosecutor and jury would look at how the access was accomplished and what was done with the access before definitively determining that it was unauthorized." In other words, the representative said, someone sitting in a company's parking lot at 3 a.m. for the sole purpose of network connectivity might be viewed as a lawbreaker.

Will we ever get a straight answer?
Yes, but expect it to take a while. "This is a problem with the way the legal system works," says Orin Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University who has written a detailed article on unauthorized network access. "Nobody knows how an ambiguous law works until a prosecution is brought and a court decides."

Alternatively, Congress could rewrite the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to clear things up, but nobody expects this to happen anytime soon.

How about sharing? Is it legal for me to share my cable modem or DSL connection with my neighbors?
In many cases the answer is no. It depends on the wording of your contract with your broadband provider. Many don't want you to share. As far back as 2002, Time Warner Cable was sending warnings to customers with open Wi-Fi access points, and a year later it sued an apartment complex on charges of illicit sharing. Also, AT&T Broadband has acknowledged monitoring customers for "inordinately high" usage.

"Our terms of service for Verizon Online DSL customers do prohibit them from sharing their connection," says Verizon spokeswoman Bobbi Henson. "The service is meant for use in one location, which would be their home."


What happens if someone does something unsavory with my Wi-Fi connection? Can I get in trouble?
This is another area of ambiguity. "I don't think you would ever be held vicariously liable for unwittingly allowing someone to use your network even if they're trafficking in child pornography. You're just considered a victim in that case," says Christian Genetski, an information security lawyer at Sonnenschein, Nath and Rosenthal. "It'd be different if you set up your own open relay server and looked the other way while spammers sent billions of messages through your open relay, and you were put on notice and did nothing to stop it."

Still, one reason to tighten up your Wi-Fi security is that an open wireless connection can be used for mischief. In September, a California man pleaded guilty to spamming people through open Wi-Fi hot spots.

Are state laws about unauthorized access different?
Yes, but often not in an important way. Genetski says that "as a general rule, most states model their computer crime laws after (the federal law)."

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